Along with the rowdy summer festival – Nebuta Matsuri – and Aomori apples, fresh fish and seafood is one of the things that Aomori is most famous for. Honshu’s most northerly prefecture is surrounded on three sides by the he Tsugaru Strait, the Sea of Japan and Pacific Ocean, so it’s no wonder that it’s marine products are so good.
CAPTION: Aomori City harbour-front and ASPAM (Aomori Prefectural Centre for Tourism and Industry)
Aomori City holds two traditional fish markets, each containing tightly packed rows of vendors selling the likes of pearlescent salmon eggs, local scallops and heaps of hairy crabs. These all arrive directly from Aomori Port.
At Furukawa Fish Market, which is located around a 5 minute walk from JR Aomori Station, you can sample the seafood at its freshest by creating your own donburi rice bowl (known locally as nokkedon). Pick up set of tickets on your way in, then exchange these for cooked rice, slices of raw fish, seafood portions and fish eggs as you go round. You can also ask for miso soup and pickles.
CAPTION: Auga Fish Market, Aomori City
Auga Market, which is also in easy walking distance of the station, is located in the basement of the Auga Festival City Shopping Centre. They don’t offer nokkedon here, but there are a few restaurants around the edge of the market serving local specialities such as kaiyaki-miso – sliced scallops from Mutsu Bay grilled in the shell with a mix of beaten egg, miso and stock (top left in the image below).
CAPTION: Set meal of local specialities at Nishi-mura restaurant, Aomori City
For more Aomori specialities, head to Nishi-mura restaurant on the 10th Floor of ASPAM (Aomori Prefectural Centre for Tourism and Industry), where you can sample the likes of jappa-jiru – a miso stew made with the head, bones and guts of the codfish as well as carrots, daikon radish, tofu and Japanese leek (bottom right in the image above).
Before leaving Aomori City, it’s also worth sampling some of the areas excellent apple-based dishes and you will find plenty of these on the first floor of ASPAM along with other local produce, or at the shops around the station.
These apple pies from a stall at the station were particularly tasty.
By Celia Plender